Following Friday night’s D’var Torah, there is another opportunity to speak with members of Roots. Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, who will be attending in person, will be joined by Khalil Sayegh, on Zoom. Khalil is a Palestinian born and raised in the Gaza Strip to a refugee family.
Please note, this opportunity will be in-person with a Zoom option. No registration is required
Ph: 312-626-6799- Meeting ID: 813 2237 5514 / Passcode: 1224
Khalil Sayegh is a Palestinian born and raised in the Gaza Strip to a refugee family originally from the town of Majdal in historical Palestine, and today within the borders of the State of Israel and known as Ashkelon.
Growing up, Khalil never interacted with Israelis, except when the Israeli air forces bombed Gaza. His negative experiences of war, alongside his bitterness and suffering due to what his people went through in 1948, has made him angry and bitter towards the people he perceived as his enemy.
In 2014, after he moved to the West Bank, he dared for the first time to meet an Israeli in one of the settlements of Gush Etzion. The meeting was with one of the participants in Roots and took place right next to the Roots Dignity Center. Through that meeting, Khalil begin to see how misinformed he was about the narrative of Israeli Jews. After a long struggle with ideas and two narratives, he became convinced that only through co-existence and recognition of the other side’s legitimate connection to the land will we ever achieve peace.
In 2019, Khalil met with Rav Hanan and together they started meeting with groups of Palestinians and Israelis in the north of the West Bank to foster civil grassroots dialogue between both peoples. Through these meetings was born the Northern Branch of Roots.
In January 2021, Khalil moved to DC, where he is finishing up his Masters in Comparative Politics at the American University School of Public Affairs. Prior to that he had obtained a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies back in Palestine. He is also a fellow at The Philos Project.
An Orthodox rabbi and passionate Zionist settler, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger has lived most of his life in the West Bank where Palestinian make up 90% of the population. Yet 33 years past until he first had a real conversation with a Palestinian.
Rabbi Hanan was profoundly transformed by his meeting and friendship with Ali Abu Awwad and with other Palestinians at the beginning of 2014. His understanding of the reality of the Middle East conflict and of Zionism was utterly complicated by the parallel universe that they introduced him to. Shaken and transformed, Rabbi Hanan – together with Ali and other local Israelis and Palestinians – formed Roots, the Israeli Palestinian grassroots initiative for understanding, nonviolence and transformation to build bridges of reconciliation between the two sides.
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